TV Guide: Just Watch Riverdale

Alison Malkowski ‘19
Format Editor

This article was originally going to thoughtfully recommend to you a well-balanced diet of television shows you hadn’t the time to find for yourself. I was going to spare you future  indecision paralysis with some fun lesser-known comedies (Alpha House, People of Earth, Borderline), shows featuring badass women (The Bletchley Circle, Call the Midwife, Insecure), which Netflix stand-up comedy collections to watch (all of The Stand-Ups, but especially Aparna Nancherla; see me after), and shows about how an Australian flapper (Miss Fisher) and Mr. Weasley but a priest now (Father Brown) are coping with the alarming murder rates in their communities. But then it came to my attention that not nearly enough of you are watching the CW show Riverdale. Let me tell you—with mild spoilers—why you must.

The malt-shop love triangle is still there but this Riverdale aims at more than just Archie on TV. Photo courtesy the CW.

The malt-shop love triangle is still there but this Riverdale aims at more than just Archie on TV. Photo courtesy the CW.


Reason #1: FP Jones

You know what really shakes up a semester to an invigorating start? A good identity crisis. You know what will get you there? The absurd attractiveness of Billy from the movie Scream just trying to be a good parent while co-running a gang with his son, played by Cole Sprouse from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (a documentary on the perils of homeschooling millennials in the age of Airbnb).

Actor Skeet Ulrich’s character, Forsythe Pendleton Jones II (“FP” for short), has the name of an eighteenth century watch heir and the leather jacket of a motorcycle gang member who shops at H&M. Second only to Fred Andrews, he is ironically one of the most normal parents on this show. I know what those of you who actually watch Riverdale are thinking—“but didn’t he...literally kill someone?”—but the fact is that beggars can’t be choosers in the insane roulette of morals universe in which this show operates. Shout out to the time he worked as an old-fashioned busboy at Pop's Chock’Lit Shoppe (which is the local Riverdale diner, as it turns out, and not the gift shop of an off-brand Cracker Barrel).


Reason #2: The names

Riverdale is meant to be a mashup of classic characters from the Archie Comics. As a direct result, the names on this show are ridiculous. The entire Jones family leads the pack in this category of “Unfortunate Names with Which to Attend High School,” with father Forsythe Pendleton II, son Jughead, and daughter Jellybean. But also featured on Riverdale are such gems as Sweet Pea, Papa Poutine (who has a son named “Small Fry”), Fangs (not a dog), Hot Dog (is a dog), and Tall Boy (not a beer). Nothing elevates a CW drama to an artform quite like the line “It’s the Ghoulies, Jughead! Those bastards have Hot Dog!”


Reason #3: General intrigue

It’s important to have topics of conversation on hand that are unrelated to law and politics, and BOY can Riverdale fill this void in your life. Need something to chat about between government shutdowns and professor jokes about social media? Pick any decision the character Archie has ever made on this show and start there! No season on Riverdale would be complete without a series of awful judgment calls by this guy. My theory is that he might make better decisions if he hadn’t spent his entire life in a town lying to him about his natural hair color. If Archie’s one man angst show isn’t for you, don’t worry! CW’s hottest show has everything: An heiress to a maple syrup dynasty who shoots arrows for no reason, a cheerleading squad that never cheers but sometimes inexplicably sings, an underground non-alcoholic speakeasy run by a seventeen-year-old, and a parent-run brothel so haphazardly thrown in among the other insane things happening in this town that you will regularly forget about it.


Reason #4: Dungeons and Dragons!

Season Three of this emotional rollercoaster sees the introduction of “Griffins and Gargoyles,” a re-imagining of the game Dungeons and Dragons steeped in murders, a drug-dealing conspiracy, and a Breakfast Club-flavored flashback episode. Little more can be said on the subject without spoiling things, but rest assured that despite the fact that “G&G” plays a central role in the plot of the third season of Riverdale, it somehow competes for intrigue with an underground prison fight club, Silence of the Lambs-style maximum-security cell visits, and the parenting stylings of Shelly from Twin Peaks (who still has great eyebrows but is now deeply invested in a farm cult).

In conclusion, I know better than to suggest that you watch Derry Girls (a hilarious show about teens growing up in 1990s northern Ireland), or Would I Lie to You (a British panel show during which a rando just stands onstage while contestants argue about who they are), Party Down (a severely underrated, star-studded comedy from 2009), or Hello, My Twenties (a Korean soap opera with some of the wildest subplots ever imagined). I’ve heard your complaints of how you’re “in law school” and “don’t have ten hours in a row right now,” and have tailor-made this viewing recommendation just for you: just watch Riverdale. It may not be the show anyone needs, but boy on some level is it the show we deserve. Stay tuned for this week, with guest star Kelly Ripa.